OPPOSITE THE ENTRANCE to the exhibition space was the restaurant’s kitchen, and beside that, the door to the chef’s first-floor apartment. Inside, a film of somebody (not) at work, sleeping on the job; outside, a restaurant gearing up for their night shift. Proximity is important, and in the near-overlap of these two representations of labour, Paludal, in its quiet adaptability toward the activities surrounding it, refused to divorce its own interests from those who they shared the communal area with. After a little over a year and a half of thoughtful exhibitions, it has closed its doors, dormant while its facilitators search for new premises. For now, Paludal is on hiatus, their name crystallising their ethos, a. of a marsh, something absorbent that might sink gently back into where it came from.
My bookshop project, Blue Flower Texts materialised from an opportunity to utilise the stairwell of the NG Building at 212 Madras St, the last of the Edwardian warehouses that characterised Christchurch’s commercial architecture during the early 1900s. Any structural damage that the building sustained during the earthquakes was repaired swiftly, and as one of the first buildings to reopen in the CBD, the NG Building was able to host design firms, artists’ studios, hair salons, NG Boutique, and significantly, the Christchurch Art Gallery for a period of time. Unfortunately, the building was situated on land intended for the new sports stadium, and at the beginning of this year, the owners were notified that the Crown intended to take acquisition and pull it down to begin work on the consented plans. The ensuing legal battle created an interim window when Blue Flower was able to occupy the stairs that led to upstairs tenancies, rent-free and with the knowledge that this arrangement would only last for a finite amount of time.
The adjacent building remained structurally damaged from the earthquakes, and was supported by shipping containers, a mainstay of Christchurch’s recent built environment, which also obscured the entrance to the building. It was inside this corridor of containers, in a thoroughfare of wooden stairs, that Blue Flower was able to exist. On Sundays, my boyfriend and I would move our kitchen table and cardboard boxes of books from our garage into his truck and then into the stairwell. There, rushed every time, I would unpack and sort the publications into piles, moving in for a few hours via what was effectively a cantilevered bookshelf. The stairwell space itself still preserved the histories of organisations that had shared its walls in other eras. A sliding in-out board records the availability of Musical Instrument Repairs, Somewhere in Time studio, River S. Holloway, Bains Warehouse Ltd and so on. Sometimes, I slid the peg to IN, and imagined a workshop still above me, restringing violins and cellos.